Just ask any CIO and they'll tell you mobility is a top priority for 2007
. While certain enterprise applications are obvious ROI generators when mobilized, the real value of others is hard to pin down. Intuitively, we know that getting rid of paper-based processes in field service
and other tasks is a major time and money saver. But what is the value in mobilizing other critical productivity applications like Sales Force Automation (SFA)
?We've been talking about mobile SFA for a long time, but deployments have yet to reach industry-standard levels. Why? Well, it is the age old story of the soft vs. the hard ROI. Sure, real-time access to customer information, history, inventory availability and other classic SFA business processes will improve productivity, but is it really "mission critical"? Most back-end SFA deployments are purchased from and implemented by large enterprise application providers. Extending that deployment to the mobile mode of operation requires more cash. When it comes to the hard ROI of mobile applications like field service, spending the extra money is a no-brainer. But when it comes to the soft ROI of mobile SFA, the case for a deployment does not always warrant immediate action.
Well, the good news is that this is changing. The big software players are providing more mature mobile software add-ons to CRM and SFA deployments. Mobility is rapidly becoming a checkbox for CRM and will soon be so for SFA. For the sales folks in the field, mobile SFA means better sample tracking, real-time access to inventory, embedded GPS for traveling to and from customer sites, better account planning, improved pipeline visibility, and more customer visits each day without paperwork delays. The key to business success -- automation and less paperwork -- is rapidly being extending to global sales forces.
The first companies testing real-time mobile SFA are in the life sciences, including pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. Once these deployments prove successful, SFA will make its way into mobility initiatives in other vertical markets.
Leah Gabriel is principal of field mobility for Motorola and a guest contributor with Over The Air.